The South Carolina Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P., and a security firm in a case arising out of the death of a woman who attempted to steal two pairs of jeans but then died in a crash when store security continued to pursue her after leaving the store parking lot.
In June of 2006, Alice Hancock drove to a Lancaster Wal-Mart with her sister in the passenger seat. The two women went into the store, put two pairs of jeans into their bags, and left the store “undetected,” as they so thought. Apparently, the store security manager, Mr. Jones, was told to do whatever was necessary to obtain the license plate number of the suspected thieves, even after they left the parking lot.
The issue was that the instructions given to Jones were in violation of Wal-Mart’s store personnel policy for addressing shoplifters. According to court records, employees are prohibited from pursuing fleeing shoplifters that are in a moving vehicle. This did not stop Jones, however, as he then pursued the two shoplifters by vehicle. The chase lasted about two miles when Hancock crashed her car and was subsequently pronounced dead on scene.
Concluding the case, and despite the policy violation, the court decided 2-1 in favor of Wal-Mart and the security firm.
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